Seven days on bed rest stretched into entire weeks. Eventually, Jenny told me that I couldn’t go back to work unless I stopped bleeding, and I had to notify her of each new bleed. She also stipulated that I must sit down with as little movement as possible, and I could not work more than four hours per day.
To accommodate these restrictions, I walked slowly when I had to walk and asked for a personal assistant at work to bring me supplies. I also needed flexibility from my supervisor to leave whenever I felt the need. I could not go out of the house for any other reason except work, and I had to take it easy at all parts of the day. Each morning, I rubbed my sore, unused muscles and wondered what that day would bring.
“What did Atlanta say?” Jenny had called to explain that I would need an FMLA form. I knew she wanted us to make a decision soon. I was almost seven months pregnant and didn’t know the hospital at which I would deliver.
“We have an appointment with the cardiologist tomorrow. Since she’s the doctor who set up our meetings in Atlanta, she will explain the diagnosis.” I felt as if I were holding my breath until that meeting. What would that diagnosis be?
Kenny and I followed the cardiologist into a small room engulfed mostly by a long conference table. I lowered myself steadily into the cushioned rolling chair and touched my belly instinctively. If only I could keep Hadassah inside of me forever. No matter how uncomfortable for me, at least she would be safe.
The doctor laced her fingers on the tabletop. “So what did the doctors already tell you?” She spoke deliberately.
Her question alone foreshadowed a weak diagnosis. We related what the doctor explained after the MRI about Hadassah’s small lungs and severe scoliosis.
“Yes,” the doctor bobbed her head. “Basically, the left side of her chest is not forming, which interferes with normal chest structure for breathing. Her right lung is very small, and the left lung isn’t forming. In addition, the contents of the abdomen is outside of the body, and there is no real cavity to put the organs inside.”
I glued my eyes to her lips. It was worse than I had thought. The surgeon in Atlanta had said that our baby had to have a cavity to put the organs into. If she did not, the doctors could do nothing to save her.
“The doctors aren’t very hopeful after studying these deformities alongside the severe spinal curvature. I’m sorry.”
Kenny and I asked a few more questions, but we could see where this diagnosis was going. We were forced to make the hardest decision that anyone can ever make. We had to choose not to use every ounce of our strength to save our baby.
by Sarah George